Wednesday, August 5, 2009


The old Roundtop gas station looks like something that would sit along Route 66. It's a neat old building, a throwback to a long-lost era. The old gas station was built in 1936, and "reflects the Mimetic/Programmatic style of architecture."

Like those old relics of buildings along Route 66, the Roundtop station was built along what was then a major highway - the road from Little Rock to St. Louis. The station was closed down in 1958, but the building remains in somewhat decent condition. The front door now sprawls inside the main room, along with several empty beer cans and other random debris. There is hope for the building, it was added to the National Register of Historic Places last year.

An article about the building that ran in the Sherwood Voice last year says:
“In the 1920s, Gay Oil Company held a filling station design competition and the architect, John Parks Almand, won the competition with a ‘mushroom-shaped’ design,” according to the National Register nomination. “While a significant departure from the Almand design, the Roundtop Filling Station draws an architecture reference to the station designed of independent oil and gas companies from the prior decade.”

“Its defining characteristics, designed to provide visual interest to entice customers, include an octagonal main structure with a double-hipped turret roof, stucco walls, and arched window openings and entries,” according to the application.

“The Roundtop Filling Station is an example of the free flowing architecture used by smaller independent gas and oil companies between the 1920s and the 1970s to highlight their distinctiveness,” according to the application. “The distinctive double-hipped turret roof provided a visual attraction for automobile travelers on the road to and from Little Rock and St. Louis. The site also has two historic features relating to its historic use, a lamp/sign post and a concrete gas island.”

I went out to the station with John Blakney, trying to get some shots of the building at night. I was a bit worried about heading out there at night, since the station is now surrounded by houses. I figured that someone might call the cops on us, since we might have looked a bit suspicious. Luckily no one called 911 on us, although a police car did drive by. It was a Pulaski County Sheriff's car, who just sped on past us (and didn't stop at a nearby stop sign, I might add).

But here is the best shot of the night:

It is a 40 second exposure, with three pops from an external flash hitting the building. There is a flashlight inside the station, trying to light up the area in the main room.


Windy Richardson said...

Okay, that place is amazing. I may head out there after all.

satlink said...

Great shot! Love it! Karla will flip out when she sees this. She loves old buildings like this. Your extra work on lighting paid off.

Matthew Kennedy said...

I now where Round Bottom access is on the White River